Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sport for life

Wrapping up with worlds?

Wrapping up with worlds?. Peter Mogg shows some emotion during a cyclocross race last season. The Cambridge native hopes that being Canadian champion for the last three years will set him up nicely for a spot, and possible podium finish, at the 2012 world championships in KentuckyPHOTO SUBMITTED
There’s no way that Stephanie Mogg would know that a birthday present for her husband could possibly spawn a world champion.
But when she gave hubby Peter – a former national junior team cycler – a mountain bike for his 29th birthday, she paved the way for the 34-year-old Cambridge native to become a three-time national masters cyclocross champion and gave him a good shot for a podium finish at the 2012 worlds in Kentucky next January.
Though taking a mountain bike out for a ride on a nightly basis is a far stretch from peddling a cyclocross bike through a muddy, obstacle-filled circuit – think steeplechase but with cycling incorporated – it got him back on a bike after about 11 years.
Of course, things didn’t come easy at first. In his first full year in cyclocross in 2007, after finishing fifth in the elite mountain bike series the year before, he finished last in almost every race he competed in until he got to provincials. There, he finished second. That made all the nudging to get into cyclocross by Hub Bicycle Shop owner Cliff Vanclief and employee Erik Box worth it.
“Going from being last at the beginning of the season to finishing on the podium in the same category by the end of the year really showed what I was able to do when I figured out the discipline and what you need to do to perform well,” Mogg said.
“Each cycling discipline has its own little nuances that you have to figure out. Once you can crack that nut, you start doing well.”
Mogg also found he enjoyed the physical and mental challenges to cyclocross, opposed to the thinking man’s sport of road racing.
“I just love the discipline, getting out in the mud. It’s not like a road race where guys can hide in the draft and bust out a big sprint at the end. The circuit itself dictates and causes the separations, so usually the strongest guy wins. Whereas in road, the smartest guy usually wins.”
The next year, after cracking that proverbial nut, he won every race he was in except the provincials. Despite that, he won the national masters championship in Edmonton.
In 2009, he won every race he was in, including the provincials and Canadian title number two.
Last year, everything seemed to come together for Mogg, if you can believe that after his previous two years.
He not only swept through the master circuit and won a third national crown, he joined the elite cyclocross season and was third overall among the best-of-the-best.
Some of the racers he faced were a decade younger than him and he won the first two races of the year.
“I’ll be honest, the first two, three races of the year we don’t have the top competition we could have,” he said.
“Top racers are out, but as the season progresses some of the top guys…start coming out and it elevates everyone’s game. You don’t necessarily get the top of the podium once a 22-year-old guy comes out and starts beating you down to a pulp.”
Combine that with a third- and fifth-place finish during the two-day cyclocross nationals in Massachusetts – where he was beat on the first day by only the 30-plus and 40-plus U.S. champs and on Day 2 by those two racers and three other who skipped Saturday’s race – and it was no wonder the Ontario Cycling Association named him their 2010 Male Cyclocross Athlete of the Year.
Mogg was a bit surprised, considering usually full-time elite riders win the award, but being a big promoter of the sport probably gave him an edge.
“It’s my passion; it’s what drives me. All the other cycling disciplines I do simply because I love cyclocross and I want to do my best in cyclocross. The Ontario Cycling Association recognized what I was able to do and how much I pushed myself in the sport and this particular discipline.
“In terms of overall results and where I pushed myself, it was definitely the biggest year I had.”
All the accolades for 2010 re-enforced Mogg’s drive towards the worlds, which has been moved from Europe for the first time. While he wasn’t sure if there is a qualifier for the event, though there has been talk that they may only allow five riders from each country in each category, he figures that his status as three-time Canadian champion will get him in. Should he win a fourth national championship at the end of this year, he’s a lock.
Mogg plans to stay involved in the elite racing – he also competes in road races until cyclocross’s September to December schedule kicks in – this year in hopes it will push him to even better times when he competes against other 30-plus cyclists.
“I kind of figured out how to beat most of the masters in Ontario, but to race faster you have to go against faster guys. So there was way better training (in 2010) and it really pushed me a lot harder racing the elite guys, and that’s the plan for (2011). It’s all building up to worlds in Kentucky.”
Mogg has also been doing his homework. The two top U.S. cyclists he faced in Massachusetts competed against some elite competition in Europe and finished fourth and sixth in the 30-plus division. That was good news.
“Based on those results, if I’m able to keep my form right through to worlds, I should be able to finish top 10 easily. The goal is obviously to win the world championships. If I do things right, that’s definitely not out of the question.”

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